How Long before God’s Longsuffering Turns to Judgment?
- Chad Napier Crosswalk.com Contributing Writer
- 2022 14 Jun
Pastors and evangelists often recite the refrain that “God will have to apologize to Sodom and Gomorrah if judgment doesn’t fall upon America.” Of course, these men of God do not actually believe that God would owe any nation or group of people an apology for exercising His divine providence and sovereignty. The reasoning is that the sins besetting America today are the same sins that brought destruction to Sodom and Gomorrah.
There is a point when God’s mercy and longsuffering end and judgment begins. Warnings in various forms were sent to the lands and ignored while the people continued to engage in sexual immorality and perversion cited in Jude 7 and relished in worldly prosperity without any regard to the Lord or the poor reflected in Ezekiel 16:49-50 and Luke 17:28. Our nation has been warned by the men of God since its birth, yet we as a nation oppose His inclusion. We are reminded in verse seven of Jude that the Sodom and Gomorrah “are set forth for an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire.”
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Recent Warnings Regarding Our Security
Four major events in the last 23 years reflect God’s weariness with the sins of our country and should awaken our spiritual senses. These four events shook and, in many ways, shattered four distinct aspects of our American living.
Our political and electoral process has never fully recovered since the election of 2000 and the resulting legislative and judicial drama. The tension and visible hatred between the parties has progressively grown. As a result, the American people have lost any trust in the political system. The attacks on our country on September 11 disturbed the belief that our country was impenetrable from foreign attacks. The housing and stock market collapses eroded our confidence in our financial markets. The COVID-19 pandemic of 2020 was a realization of the frailty of our health systems.
Were these events God’s judgment upon our country or warnings of the wrath to come? Our country experienced a short-term revival in our churches following 9/11. However, during the pandemic, much of our world and nation put their dependence for recovery on local, state, and national governments in terms of financial incentives and the development of medicinal cures. The outcry for repentance to God and revival was for the most part silent.
Longsuffering and Mercy Allows for Repentance
The mercy of God begins when an individual or nation is given instructions and knowledge of God’s expectation for obedience. Ezekiel 33 warned, “when I bring the sword upon a land, if the people of the land take a man of their coasts, and set him for he their watchman: if when he seeth the sword come upon the land, he blow the trumpet, and warn the people; then whosoever heareth the sound of the trumpet, and taketh not warning; if the sword come, and take him away, his blood shall be upon his own head.”
We live in a spiritual enlightened age never experienced throughout the church age. Watchmen have been blowing the trumpet from our houses, street corners, churches, and on social media and YouTube videos warning that the righteous and holy sword has been pulled from His sheath. We have access to 66 books containing examples, reproofs, and commandments with insight and guidance from the Holy Spirit. We are privileged to have writings from generations of biblical scholars at our fingertips. God’s judgment can be meted out upon individuals as Paul wrote in Romans 1 when God’s patience was exhausted and “God gave them over to a reprobate mind.”
Further in Romans 9:22, Paul asked, “what if God, willing to shew his wrath, and to make his power known, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction.” As the noted Bible commentator David Guzik explained, “if God chooses to glorify Himself through letting people go their own way and letting them righteously receive His wrath so as to make His power known, who can oppose Him?”
Longsuffering During Bondage
Bondage to sin is always experienced before either deliverance or judgment. Bondage does not necessarily equate to God hiding His presence. From Adam and Eve up until the present dispensation, God has always provided sustenance to His people. His son Jesus Christ is that provision for the lost today as they live under the dominion of sin. In Stephen’s farewell sermon in Acts 7:6, he expounded to the people, “that his seed should sojourn in a strange land; and that they should bring them into bondage, and entreat them four hundred years.” We can preach the same message in verse 51 by proclaiming, “ye stiffnecked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, ye do always resist the Holy Ghost.” The lost throughout history have either literally or effectively persecuted the prophets or men of God provided to them.
Liberation and Deliverance
Judgment can be used to liberate God’s people from bondage as was meted out in Egypt. Exodus 7-12 contains the ten plagues of wrath imposed upon Egypt to release God’s people. Even though we have been saved from the judgment of our sins, we are still confined in and suffer from a sinful flesh and a world of evil. In the coming judgment, we will be faithfully delivered from even the presence of sin.
Paul in Romans 8:18-22 wrote to the church assuring it that our future in glory cannot compare with our present trials and sufferings. He penned, “for the earnest expectation of the creature waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God. For the creature was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of him who hath subjected the same in hope, because the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God.”
Just as God faithfully provided for his people in the wilderness following the exile out of Egypt and Paul in his seasons of persecution and imprisonment, He will sustain the righteous today. His liberation is more than helping us pay for $6.00/gallon gas or our tripling grocery bill. The freedom we have through Christ is eternal emancipation.
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The great prophets Isaiah and Jeremiah preached and warned God’s people year after year with differing degrees of success. Any improvement was soon met with greater and more open disobedience. Immediately before judgment, the people became emboldened with their sins of disobedience which included idolatry and fornication. Similarly, our country is infected with a celebration of emblazoned sin labeled as progression. These abominations of progression are reflected by our country’s agreement with same-sex marriage, legalization of drugs, and legalization of the murder of unborn infants.
Sadly, many within our churches have voted for politicians under the guise of a political party who are openly in favor of policies blatantly opposed to the Word of God. Isaiah wrote in 3:9 that, “the shew of their countenance doth witness against them, and they declare their sin as Sodom, they hide it not. Woe unto their soul! For they have rewarded evil unto themselves.” God help us as we are witnesses against ourselves in judgment.
God’s Mercy Is Revealed in His Longsuffering
In 1 Peter 3:20, the apostle wrote about the longsuffering of God during the time the ark was being built. He explained, “wherein few, that is, eight souls were saved by water.” Most estimate that it took Noah at least 70 years to build the ark. It would be reasonable to conclude he had his sons as well as other craftsman assisting in the construction effort. Imagine the conversations among the workers who helped in the building for years, yet had no intention of boarding the ark because of disbelief. The parallel can be made within the church today. Many husbands can play the game and attend church on Sunday in order to appease their wives. Many who left the church during the pandemic have yet to return. In 1 Peter 4:17, the apostle wrote that “judgment begins at the house of God.”
Judgment Delayed Is Not Judgment Denied
In 2 Peter 3:9, we are told, “the Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to usward, not willing that nay should perish, but that all should come to repentance.” The church is repeatedly told by sinners that “I have heard that my entire life.” This justification reasons that because God has not sent His Son to gather His people and defeat the evil of the world in the 30 or 40 years of the person’s life that God has somehow forgotten or has forsaken the world altogether. Peter, however, explained that any delay in judgment is God’s longsuffering for His people and for the desire for their repentance and salvation. Throughout time, God’s desire for both blessing and curse is for people to grow closer to Him through His Son.
We are to be thankful to still live and minister in the age of God’s remaining mercy and longsuffering. God’s people must boldly preach and teach the coming judgment of the world. The gospel requires the church to take a stand against sin using the Word of God. This ability is given by the spirit but requires the believer to be immersed in the Word by prayerful study and meditation. The righteous will be judged for their faithfulness while the lost will realize an eternal wrath by not placing faith in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. Both judgments will confirm the reality of His righteousness, holiness, justness, and mercy.
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